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Human Rights Council continues General Debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights

Human Rights Council 

8 March 2013

The Human Rights Council this afternoon continued its general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.

During the debate, speakers raised issues concerning the right to development, which they said provided a fundamental link between human rights and social progress, women’s rights and the eradication of violence against women, and the right of persons with disabilities to equality concerning the right to employment.  Speakers also spoke about the necessity to regulate the services of private military and security companies, and the need for international cooperation for the effective promotion and protection of human rights worldwide.  Other areas discussed included the right to worship and the destruction of places of worship, child marriage as a violation of one of the fundamental rights of the child, the important role of civil society in the promotion of social equality, the protection of human rights in countries affected by the economic crisis, and the abolition of the death penalty.
The following delegations took the floor during the general debate: India, Kuwait, Chile, Ecuador, Ecuador on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, Switzerland, Algeria, Tunisia, Australia, Sudan, Cuba, Denmark, Yemen, Netherlands Syria, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Council of Europe.

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Soka Gakkai International, France Libertés: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peoples, Centre Europe Tiers Monde, Women’s Human Rights International Association, Society Studies Centre, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Helios Life Association, Liberal International, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Human Rights Advocates Inc., Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society, Friends World Committee for Consultation, African Technology Development Link, Islamic Women’s Institute of Iran, United Schools International, World Barua Organization, British Humanist Association, African Technical Association, Pax Romana, Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolitans, Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme, Iranian Elite Research Centre, International Federation of Human Rights League, Baha’i International Community, Asian Forum, United Nations Watch,  International European Union of Public Relations, Amnesty International, Canners International Parliament Committee,  International Association for Democracy in Africa, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, World federation of Democratic Youth, International Institute for Peace, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, Jubilee Campaign, International Commission for Jurists, International Muslim Women’s Union, Centre for Inquiry, Comité international pour le Respect et l’Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples, and Human Rights Now.

At the end of the meeting, Maldives, Canada, Cuba, Viet Nam and Nepal spoke in right of reply.

The Human Rights Council will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Monday, 11 March, when it will conclude the general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, including the right to development, before starting individual interactive dialogues with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar and Iran.

General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development

India reiterated that despite an international agreement concerning the holistic nature of human rights, there had been an emphasis on civic and political rights.  The right to development provided a fundamental link between human rights and social progress and, although it was a matter of satisfaction that this notion had become increasingly mainstreamed, much more remained to be done in the full realization of the right to development.  International cooperation was essential.

Kuwait reiterated the need to provide employment opportunities for persons with disabilities and to raise awareness among employers to combat prejudices.  Kuwait had taken measures to promote employment opportunities for persons with special needs, to ensure the provision of equal opportunities and a life of dignity, including the establishment of a specific status and through the provision of education and of training opportunities as well as ensuring their integration into society.

Chile said that the increasing use of private military and security companies, in particular in conflict and post-conflict situations, was of concern.  Chile agreed on the need for regulation through an international, legally binding, and verifiable instrument.  There should be a balance between international regulation, national legislation and self-regulation in the industry.  The draft prepared by the Working Group was a good starting point and accountability for violations was crucial.  

Ecuador said that regulating services of private military and security companies was an important issue for human rights, as over the past 10 years their participation as service providers in conflict settings had increased, giving rise to concern about the regulation of their conduct.  It was important to ensure that citizens whose rights were violated by private military and security companies had a mechanism through which to bring their complaints and receive reparation and restitution.

Finland, speaking on behalf of a group of States, said that the opportunities for women to better enjoy their rights had improved in today’s world, but too many women still lived in fear of falling victims to early marriages, trafficking or forced labour.  Violence against women, including gender-based killings, affected all societies and prevented women from enjoying their rights fully.  States must prevent and prosecute all forms of discrimination against women and abolish discriminatory laws and practices.

Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, stressed the importance of adopting comprehensive measures to eradicate violence against women and expressed its satisfaction at the inclusion of human rights into the outcome document of the Rio+20 Conference.  The Latin American and Caribbean Group was concerned about the persistence of extreme poverty in the world.  Hunger, illiteracy, lack of basic services and access to drinking water and sanitation particularly affected developing countries.

Switzerland, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that the death penalty was an inhuman and degrading treatment and the countries opposed it under all circumstances; they recalled the adoption of a resolution by the General Assembly in November calling for a moratorium, with a view to the abolition of the practice.  The Council should also lead a dialogue on this issue and take measures to complement those of the General Assembly concerning the moratorium as a first step towards abolition.  The countries welcomed the two initiatives led by Belgium and France to be presented at this session and remained committed to taking action on this issue.

Algeria continued to cooperate in good faith with Special Procedure mandate holders and continued to undertake national efforts to promote democracy and the promotion and protection of women’s rights.  A revision of the Constitution would take place soon on the basis of a referendum.  Algeria’s support for the fulfilment of the principle of self-determination remained unchanged and the Council was responsible for its effective implementation.

Tunisia thanked the Office of the High Commissioner for its support to countries to achieve democracy and the rule of law with full respect for human rights as democracy was an exercise in which there was no room for complacency.  Since the revolution, Tunisia had endeavoured to promote democracy and restore the rule of law, however, numerous challenges remained.  Tunisia also noted the recommendations on ensuring human rights in countries suffering from the current economic crisis.

Australia said that once established, the maintenance of democracy required constant vigilance.  Australia agreed on the need to strengthen the rule of law, establish accountability and create opportunities for civil society to participate.  All States should engage with civil society, with respect to their freedom and giving due attention to issues they raised.  The human rights situation of minorities was an issue of concern and all States should strengthen minority rights and strengthen diversity.

Sudan was facing many challenges of a financial and political nature, but was still exerting all efforts to ensure development and so improve the life of its citizens.  It had a number of projects for this purpose and one such project was the El Roseris dam, the longest dam in the world; the resettlement process had been conducted at the satisfaction of all citizens.  It was the role of the international community to help Sudan to enjoy peace, end conflicts and enjoy stability.

Cuba gave the floor to the wife of one of the anti-terrorist fighters who were detained in the United States.  She condemned the unfair imprisonment of Cuban prisoners for 15 years and their only crime was defending the life of their compatriots.  The law of the stronger had marked all the proceeding in this case.

Denmark reaffirmed its commitment to promote and protect all human rights, saying that the fight against torture was a long-standing Danish priority.  Denmark was a firm supporter of the rights of indigenous peoples and fully supported the mandates and mechanisms which promoted the rights of indigenous peoples, who continued to face hardship and injustice around the world.  Violence against women was one of the most serious problems in the world.  Collective efforts should be made to ensure that all individuals, including women, could enjoy equal rights and responsibilities.  

Yemen said that Yemen adhered to international instruments for the protection and promotion of human rights and had adopted a number of measures to revise its legislation with a view to strengthening human rights.  Despite the difficulties facing women in Yemen because of local customs, women had actively participated in the movement of change which aimed to establish a civil society, as a result of which women had managed to overcome problems and participated in the political life of the country.  

Netherlands said that thanks to the talent and courage of women’s associations, the Council now recognized women’s rights.  Despite that, women still dealt with horrific forms of violence.  Underlying causes of discrimination and stigmatization needed to be addressed.  The Netherlands encouraged men and women to stand up against practices violating women’s rights, which were the rights of everyone.  Recognizing that the participation of women in society was for the benefit of all, the Netherlands was committed to empowering women, which was the way to create more prosperous and stable societies.  

Syria welcomed the recommendations of the Working Group regarding a multilateral and legally binding regulatory framework on private military and security companies.  Some countries spoke about the universality of human rights and yet supported the activities of these groups, leading to human rights violations.  For over two years the Syrian people had suffered at the hands of mercenaries and terrorists coming from over 28 States and from private military and security companies.

New Zealand said that the right to work was a fundamental right and enabled persons with disabilities to participate meaningfully and fully in society.  This year’s resolution on the rights of persons with disabilities focused specifically on the issue of work and employment and sought to highlight many of the practical steps that States and other stakeholders could take to address these challenges.  New Zealand and Mexico, as main sponsors, would work to secure a consensus text with broad cross-regional support.

Trinidad and Tobago said that the application of the death penalty fell within the national jurisdiction of sovereign States and, as prescribed by national laws, was consistent with Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  As there was no consensus either on the issue of a moratorium or concerning the abolition of the death penalty, the proposal for a panel on the implementation of the moratorium was unnecessary and unbalanced; and the proposal for a panel on children of parents sentenced to the death penalty did not capture the object and purpose of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Council of Europe said its activities in the field of business and human rights would include the adoption of a declaration by the Committee of Ministers in support of the United Nations Guiding Principles on business and human rights, the elaboration of a non-binding instrument to address gaps in the implementation of the Guiding Principles at the European level, and the consideration of corporate social responsibility, in particular children’s rights, and the Internet governance and human rights.

Soka Gakkai International, in a joint statement, said that a forum had been established on line and it included a large amount of human rights documents as well as other materials and training models on human rights issues in different languages.  States needed to do more to ensure even the most basic dissemination of United Nations instruments in local languages.

France Libertés: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, in a joint statement, expressed concern at the unfair treatment of 25 Sahrawi human rights defenders before the Moroccan military court and said that Morocco had refused requests to investigate alleged cases of torture made by the Special Rapporteur on torture.

Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peoples, in a joint statement, drew the attention of the Council to the brutal assassination of three Kurdish women in Paris on 9 January 2013.  According to the autopsy all three victims had bullet wounds to their head and the crime clearly indicated an extrajudicial execution with political motives.  The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions should pay close attention to this case. 

Centre Europe Tiers Monde said that private military and security companies committed grave human rights violations, often escaped any sanctions, and constituted an obstacle to democracy and people’s right to self-determination.  More action was needed to address these issues.  Private military and security companies should be either banned or strictly regulated.   

Women’s Human Rights International Association said that in light of the atrocious situation in Camp Liberty and the recent threat of repeated attacks on the Camp, it called on the Human Rights Council to facilitate the return of the Liberty asylum seekers to Camp Ashraf, where they would be safe in waiting for relocation to third countries.

Conectas Direitos Humanos, in a joint statement, called attention to the serious situation of arbitrary detention in Brazil.  About 35 per cent of the prison population consisted of pre-trial detainees and they only had personal contact with the judge at the hearing, several months after their arrest.  The inadequacy of public defense was another major issue, the Public Defender’s Offices were responsible for providing legal assistance to poor people but they lacked the structure to fulfil their mandate.

Action Canada for Population and Development said that the realisation of the sexual and reproductive health right for adolescents was of concern, due to the lack of evidence-based sexual education and stigma attached to sexual and reproductive health.  Restrictions on the provisions of sexual and reproductive health services, for example the criminalisation of abortion, led to risk situations.  Meaningful participation should underpin efforts at all levels.

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said that with legislation supporting homosexuals being adopted in some countries, the identities of individuals would change and an unnatural process would be created among children, which would destroy the foundation of these societies.  The Organization for Defending Victims of Violence called for a serious fight against these wrong laws and called on the international community not to draw humanity towards degeneracy through the adoption of these immoral laws.

Society Studies Centre said that children’s rights in Sudan faced significant challenges including systematic abduction and recruitment of children by armed movements in South Kordofan, the Blue Nile and Darfur states.  Another challenge was the implementation of the recommendations concerning children’s rights that Sudan had received during its Universal Periodic Review.

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation called the attention of the Council to the issue of reprisals against human rights defenders all over the world and urged States to prevent and ensure adequate protection against such acts.  Human rights defenders faced various forms of reprisals in countries such as Iran, Uganda, Russia and others.  The Council should adopt the resolution on human rights defenders. 

Helios Life Association called for the promotion of education for life, or empowerment revolving around awareness; nor just knowledge, not just economic growth and success but around happiness; not competition but around love and humility.  Education alone was not enough and an empowerment process was needed to bring forth a society capable of advancing.

Liberal International drew the attention of the Council to the laws governing the exercise of fundamental rights in Cuba.  In 2012 there were 6,602 cases of arbitrary detention.  The Constitution still said that the communist party was the only lawful party and there could be no dissent or protest.  Political prisoners should be immediately freed and there should be a multi-party democracy in Cuba.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom called for the strengthening of licensing and registration criterion in contracts between the United Nations and States and private actors.  While responsibility for violations committed by third parties lay with contracting States, the League reminded Council members that crimes committed by these private actors fell within the realm of international jurisdiction.

Human Rights Advocates Inc. urged the Council to address life without parole sentences for all offenders and requested that the Working Group on arbitrary detention examine whether the sentence violated international standards, and condemn extreme juvenile sentences including the death penalty and life without parole.

Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society said that Iran was located on the transit route of drugs to Europe and had endured the negative impact of such trade.  This was particularly the case with its children and that was why the Human Rights Council and the Special Representative on violence against children should pay serious attention to children affected by drugs.

Friends World Committee for Consultation (Quakers), in a joint statement, took up the issue of the mental health of children, in particular children with a parent in prison, and recommended that States reconsidered the major mental health issues that children faced and the health impact for children of having a parent imprisoned or otherwise detained, whether or not children lived in the prison with the parent.

African Technology Development Link said that minorities existed everywhere and that hundreds of Shia Muslims were being killed in Pakistan only because of their faith.  It was the responsibility of States to ensure protection from discrimination because of their fate and protection from violence of the kind that they suffered in Pakistan.

Islamic Women’s Institute of Iran said that freedom from fear and from poverty were the two main objectives of the United Nations.  Islamic teachings paid special attention to the link between freedom from fear and poverty.  An organized move towards the realization of both collectives of rights, alongside efforts towards the realization of third generation rights, was the clearest and most practical method to realize human rights as a united whole.

United Schools International said it was significant that, after decades, people were perceiving new opportunities to bring closure in Bangladesh.  International human rights organizations should raise their voice against extremism and voices which sought to silence minorities and human rights defenders.  Effective democracy required not only the rule of law but basic freedoms and rights.  National human rights organizations had to work as watchdogs, in particular in countries with a history of military dictatorship of extremism. 

World Barua Organization said that the right to life was the most fundamental human right and neither individuals nor States had the authority to restrict it at any stage.  Violations of women’s right to life were prevalent in Indian society and were systematically violated through sex-selected feticide.  Incidents of rape had raised serious questions regarding the promotion and protection of women’s rights in India.  Female feticides and sexual violence were the worst forms of discrimination against women. 

British Humanist Association said that the fear of witchcraft was a driving wave of human rights abuses across many parts of the world.  Many States had caved in to witchcraft fears by failing to uphold, protect and defend the rights of persons alleged to be witches, and by making witch hunts State policy.  The Association urged the Council to take up cases of witchcraft related abuse with concerned States and adopt pro-active measures to end such hunts.

African Technical Association said that Pakistan lacked sovereignty over the disputed region of Gilgit Baltistan and ruled it with ad-hoc ordinances.  Several political activists remained imprisoned and faced sedition charges for demanding self-rule.  It was incumbent on the United Nations to advocate for the right of self-determination in this region.

Pax Romana recalled that the promotion and protection of all human rights was possible only when there was committed political will of the concerned State to guarantee the full enjoyment of human rights.  Pax Romana expressed concern that despite universal recognition of the right to freedom of religion or belief, minorities in all countries continued to experience multiple forms of discrimination.

Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolitans drew the attention of the Council to the situation of the minority Greek-Orthodox community of Istanbul which had had its seat in Istanbul since the fourth century and had more than 300 million believers around the world.  The community faced bureaucratic restrictions, structural discrimination, confiscation of property and denial of legal status of its institutions. 

Iranian Elite Research Centre stressed the impact of sanctions imposed in Iran, such as the degradation of living standards or the death of women and children in hospitals due to lack of medicine.  Countries must avoid any action which would disrupt other countries’ empowerment and the sanctions were in clear contrast with the basic right of nations to their empowerment.

Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme was concerned about the violations of freedom of expression in Viet Nam, where scores of bloggers and online journalists were being arrested and condemned to heavy prison sentences for expressing their views via the Internet.  Viet Nam should repeal all laws inconsistent with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and release those detained.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, in a joint statement, drew the Council’s attention to the brutal repression of freedom of expression in Viet Nam.  As a recent report on the situation of bloggers documented, those who expressed themselves online suffered intimidation, condemnation and imprisonment.  The non-governmental organization urged the Council to call on Viet Nam to amend all laws incompatible with international commitments in this regard.

Baha’i International Community reiterated concern about States that did not respect the rights of individuals who were not adherents of theologically accepted religions.  Three of the examples cited by the Special Rapporteur in his report concerned Iran.  The persecution of the Baha’is was particularly intense, but the Iranian Government also violated the rights of members of religions named in the Constitution, including Christians, Sunnis, Sufis, and even some Shia religious leaders.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development emphasized that an independent national human rights institution was vital in contributing to an enabling environment which recognized the legitimate work of human rights defenders.  The Asian Forum noted with concern that many such institutions in Asia had yet to set up a protection mechanism for human rights defenders.  The Forum had also witnessed an increase in undue restrictions for the registration of non-governmental organizations, in particular in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

United Nations Watch asked whether the Council was fulfilling its mission.  The Council had to do more about the thousands of children subjected to violence and death in Syria.  The draft resolution presented today on the Golan made no reference to this.  The United Nations contributed to the culture of impunity for Syria by allowing it to present resolutions on human rights.

Union of Arab Jurists said in addition to policies of occupation, economic sanctions imposed on peoples and double standards, imperialistic powers encouraged, financed, armed and trained groups before dispatching them to other countries to destabilize them and this was what was happening in Syria and other countries in the region.  Sanctions on Syria were a collective punishment on its people.

World Environment and Resources Council said that rights violations were reported from all over the Muslim world and a fascist ideology was seeking to forcibly convert the world to its version of Islam; an intra-Islam clash of civilizations appeared to be going on.  The mainstream moderate Muslim majority and their Governments continued to remain largely silent onlookers.

Jubilee Campaign said that religious minorities were denied their basic rights and were subjected to violence and discrimination, including discrimination in development and education.  An example of this was the Christian minority in Nigeria, which had suffered grievous discrimination from the State and from local governments.  Jubilee Campaign called on Nigeria to take proactive steps to promote and protect the basic rights of all their citizens, including the minorities in the north.  

International Commission for Jurists said that it was concerned about the continuing erosion of law in Nepal in recent months.  Nepal had taken measures to promote impunity instead of combating it, in contravention of Supreme Court rulings and the United Nations Principles, and it had failed to suspend public officials under investigation for crimes under international law.  The Council should urge Nepal to conduct prompt and thorough investigations into alleged human rights violations. 

International Muslim Women’s Union said that human rights were universal and interdependent and as such they should be enjoyed by all human beings without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political and other opinion, national origin, birth or status.  The hanging of Afzal Guru on 9 February for a 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament had raised many questions, including whether it was revenge or injustice.  

European Union of Public Relations said the aftermath of 9/11 had relegated freedom and fundamentalism was becoming common place.  Innocent people continued to be targeted by terrorism and some countries continued to build further undemocratic means seeking to protect themselves from terrorism. 

Amnesty International said that despite recent efforts, such as making torture a criminal offence, more efforts were needed to ensure accountability for torture and ill-treatment.  These should include the establishment of an independent criminal investigative mechanism.  Amnesty International was concerned about persistent allegations that individuals returned to Tajikistan had been held in incommunicado detention.

Canners International Permanent Committee urged the Council to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture to include all forms of actions impairing the capacity of individuals to function normally.  There were reports of children in developing countries subjected to sexual violence by foreigners, a treatment also akin to torture.  Canners International Permanent Committee was also alarmed about the number of reports of persons tortured under police detention in Colombo, including for the purpose of extracting confessions.

International Association for Democracy in Africa said that the right to worship was an inalienable right and its protection was essential for communities. Unfortunately it was one of the rights that was most subverted.  In Pakistan, the promise of equal treatment lay broken.  One wondered who would next become the target. 

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities said that States should produce unassailable proof of minorities that they had expressly and of their own free will renounced their sovereign attributes.  They had no mechanisms to address grave violations of their rights.  The International Human Rights Association stood for Kashmir’s right to self-determination.

World Federation of Democratic Youth condemned the trial of 25 Saharawi human rights defenders and civil society actors last February 17, in Rabat, by a Moroccan military tribunal, who were also allegedly tortured during interrogation.  The Human Rights Council was called upon to immediately intervene to stop this flagrant violation of human rights.

International Institute for Peace spoke about the “mercenaries” of private military and security groups who operated in Pakistan and condemned the countries which used those groups, including the United States.   

Commission to Study the Organization of Peace said that there was an ongoing trend of Pakistan exploiting the natural resources of Baluchistan.  The people of Baluchistan had expressed resentment at the exploitation of their region and had protested against Pakistani authorities.  Enforced disappearances occurred when agencies of the State believed that they were above and beyond the law. 

Rencontre Africaine pour la défense droits de l’homme said that human rights violations were being committed in Africa.  It expressed concern about the intervention in Mali and remained deeply concerned about the continuing violence.  It also expressed concern about the massive human rights violations in Syria and hoped that the High Commissioner’s mission in the field would not be hindered further by hostilities.   

International Institute for Non-Aligned States highlighted the effects of violence on children and the violation of a wide-range of rights.  Countries recovering from war or parts of countries in conflict situations typically did not have developed social welfare systems and the children in these categories were not covered by international humanitarian efforts and most often were left to fend for themselves.

Centre for Inquiry said that six out of eight Millennium Development Goals were affected by the prevalence of child-marriage and constituted one of the most grievous examples of the conflict between traditional practices and human rights, as well as a clear violation of a number of articles in the Convention of the Rights of the Child.  A clear condemnation of child marriage from the Council was missing.

Committee International pour le Respect el l’Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples, paid tribute to the efforts of the Council to protect human rights around the world.  All available means should be used in order to ensure the fulfillment of human rights, in particular, Special Procedures who should have the necessary resources to fulfill their mandates.  The International Committee called for the protection of the right of families living in the Polisario camps.

Human Rights Now said, with regards to the nuclear accident in Fukushima, despite the huge amount of radioactive material that contaminated East Japan, the response of the Government had been insufficient.  Japan urgently had to provide sufficient compensation and support for the relocation of people living in all contaminated areas and affected people had to be provided with comprehensive medical care.

Right of Reply

Maldives, speaking in a right of reply in response to a statement by the German delegation, said that protecting the rights of the child, particularly that of the girl child, had always been a top priority for Maldives.  The Juvenile Court’s verdict had brought home the critical and severe need to review existing mechanisms, especially the legal framework.  Maldives needed encouragement and support, not the abashment of the international community. 

Canada, speaking in a right of reply, said that Belarus chose to cast out on Canada’s commitment to the fight against the sexual exploitation of children, and this was baseless.  Canadian law-enforcement agencies worked closely with their counterparts to combat all forms of child sexual exploitation.  Canada would continue to combine strict legislative provisions with concrete legal policies, in full cooperation with its international partners. 

Cuba, speaking in a right of reply in response to a statement by a non-governmental organization, said this organization had been used as a tool to destabilize several Latin American countries.  Countries which had defended themselves from foreign intervention were well aware of the interests behind such organizations and their activities.  One of these organizations was led by a person known in Cuba for carrying out terrorist acts; false information about Cuba was being circulated and mercenaries and terrorists were being passed as patriots.  No campaign would put an end to Cuba’s idea of freedom and its commitment to democracy.

Viet Nam, speaking in a right of reply, said that while non-governmental organizations (NGOs) made a contribution to the protection of human rights, Viet Nam regretted that some individuals were abusing their names and their ECOSOC consultative status and fabricating false information.  Viet Nam reminded the Council not to allow such an abuse of its general debate.  Responding to the statements of NGOs concerned about the right to freedom of expression in Viet Nam, the delegation reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to the rule of law.  Human rights and fundamental freedoms were protected by the law; however, measures to prevent the dissemination of messages inciting hatred were also being taken.

Nepal, speaking in a right of reply, said that the statements made by a non-governmental organization did not reflect the reality and the efforts of Nepal to strengthen the capacity of all human rights institutions and the promotion of a wide observance of the rule of law.  Traditional justice mechanisms were an important tool to meet the specific needs of Nepal in accordance with international standards.  Nepal was aware of its responsibility to provide safety and security for its citizens, including journalists, and it enjoyed full press freedom as per the provisions of the constitution. 


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